Helen Hunt says something pretty brilliant, and I paraphrase: “The key to humor is find the sensitive, most desperate, ridiculous part of yourself. And then make fun of it.”
But when you poke fun at your own insecrutiy or weakness, when self-deprecating humor becomes your fluent language, then people can beliveve that’s all there is to you.
Writing is an invitation to be misunderstood.
My mom and I were together in the days before Christmas. She was in the preholiday overwhelmed place of needing to do so many things that she was paralyzed to identify the first one. (This doesn’t happen to her often. She’s something of an administrative powerhouse.) (Sorry, Mom. But you are.)
“Mom, I’ll make you a list. Tell me the things you need to do.” She rattled out the list while I scrawled it down with my favorite pen and flowery letters. I starred the ones she needed to complete first so the others would fall into place, and I handed the list back to her.
She eyed the stars, flowery letters, and splashy ink. “Well, look at that. Look how easy you made that.”
“See? There’s still a whole lot of me that can organize chaos and prioritize administrative tasks.”
She looked at me squarely. “I know that to be true. Stop telling the world otherwise.”
But I’m also the same girl who was so proud of herself for being ahead of schedule that she stopped at McDonalds on her way to meet her therapist, only to get a friendly and gentle call from said therapist saying said girl was 40 minutes late.
And this the same girl who forgot to calculate time zones for a radio interview on the east coast. Which means she rushed home just in time and completed the phone interview in her stairwell while she wore her winter coat.
So there’s also that.